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Raising Lifetime Readers from the Start

Raising Lifetime Readers from the Start

By Dr. Jenn Berman

After seeing 18-month-old child prodigy Elizabeth Barrett read flashcards on The Today Show, many parents asked me what they could do to help their children acquire similar skills and get the same thrill out of reading.

Experts say that most children learn to read between the ages of six and seven and it is not beneficial to try to push a child to read before then. In fact, one of the most damaging things you can is to create pressure for her to read - a negative association between your child and reading.

There is, however, one simple and inexpensive thing you can do which will guarantee an uptick in your child's reading success: reading aloud, which parents can even start while their child is in utero. This is also an excellent bonding ritual with other beneficial elements for both parent and child.

Most important is the positive association between reading and pleasure. It can last a lifetime.

The single best predictor of language acquisition is the number and quality of words a child is exposed to each day. Reading has the added benefit of exposing children to "rare words," complex sentences, literary devices like alliteration and rhyming, descriptive language and original synonyms and story conventions (i.e. "in a land far, far away"). According to Betty Bardige and Marilyn Segal, authors of Building Literacy with Love, "children who have lots of experience with books are likely to develop richer vocabularies and deeper understanding of the meanings, sounds and uses of words than those with less literary experience. They are also likely to be familiar with the conventions of language and story form."

The study results very clearly show that reading makes a world of difference in achievement.

It Starts at Home. It is up to parents to create enthusiastic readers. Studies show that children who come from what researchers call a "print-rich environment" consistently score better in writing, reading and math skills than those from "print-poor environments." Print, in this case, relates to a wide variety of materials, including: books, magazines, newspapers and even comic books. When researchers examined 21 kindergarten classes to see who displayed high interest in reading and who showed low interest in reading it became clear that the home environment and parents' reading habits are crucial factors. Of the high interest group, over 78 percent had mothers who read for leisure, 60 percent had fathers who read for leisure, more than 98 percent of the kids were taken to the library and more than 76 percent were read to daily.

Book ownership is a significant factor in reading enthusiasm and achievement. Children need to have books that they own, ones that they can put their name in and don't have to share with siblings. As they get older they should be able to mark up books by writing in margins, highlighting and earmarking pages. This allows kids to learn new words, come back to passages that intrigue them and make the reading experience their own.

Start reading to your child right away. Children, even infants, are never too young for a picture book. Attention span is a learned process. Infant reading studies show that most infants average a three-minute attention span. However, like exercising a muscle, those who are read to regularly can have an attention span as long as 30 minutes a day.

Be a role model. Children read more when they see other people reading. There is a direct correlation between how often children read for leisure and how often their parents do.

Create reading rituals. Create regular times in your children's day when you read to them. My daughters look forward to hearing two books after every meal while they are still in their chairs. We started this ritual as soon as they were able to use a highchair. Many parents use nap or bedtime for a reading ritual.

Keep books on hand at all times. Bring books with you wherever you go: to the park, doctors' appointments, play dates, relatives' homes, etc. Keep them in the car, in the diaper bag, in your purse and any place else you can think of, especially around the house. Have book baskets in your children's rooms, bathrooms, the kitchen and living room.

Read to your child regularly. A study of early readers, like Elizabeth Barrett, found that their parents not only read them books but also read package labels, street signs, billboards and other reading material that they encountered throughout the day.

Give your child a bed lamp. As soon as your child is old enough to read in bed get him a night light and allow him to stay up past his bedtime to read.

Point to the words as you are reading them. The visual receptors in the brain outnumber the auditory receptors 30 to 1 and therefore the chances of a word being retained in our memory are 30 times greater if we see it instead of just hearing it.

Use books to help you deal with difficult situations. A toddler who is hitting a sibling can learn from Hands Are Not for Hitting.

Get books about topics that interest your kids. If you notice your toddler showing interest in birds, buy books about birds. If your child seems interested in fire engines get books about fire engines.

Always read the name of the author and illustrator. This helps children understand that people create books. It also gives them the opportunity to pursue other books by the same author if they like the book.

Turn off the TV. Every minute that your child sits in front of the television is a minute he is not reading, playing, exercising or being creative. Not only does TV viewing directly cut into reading time, but once exposed to television and given the choice, most kids will pick television over books. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents limit their children's viewing to fewer than 10 hours a week. This makes sense since an international study of children in four countries found that those who view more than 10 hours of television in one week experienced a proportional decline in their academic scores.

Dr. Jenn Berman is a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist in private practice in Los Angeles. She has appeared as a psychological expert on hundreds of television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show and is a regular on The Today Show, The Early Show, and CNN. She is the author of the LA Times best selling books "SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years" and "The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids." In May 2011 she released her first children's book "Rockin' Babies."

Copyright© 2011 Dr. Jenn Berman. All rights reserved. No part of this handout may be reproduced in any form without permission.

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Flying With Your Breastfeeding Baby: Secret Tips Most New Moms Miss!

Flying With Your Breastfeeding Baby:  Secret Tips Most New Moms Miss!

Flying With Your Breastfeeding Baby:  Secret Tips Most New Moms Miss!

Every week in our New Mother Support groups, someone asks for tips on air travel with their breastfed baby. So I decided to compile a list of ideas that should make your trip easier  (I hope this will also help my daughter Colleen when she travels home from Germany during the Christmas holidays with my grand baby!).

  • Make reservations early and book a window seat for yourself. It is easier to breastfeed when you can turn your back to the crowd and get the baby latched on, then sit back and relax.
  • If traveling with another person, request an aisle and window seat. If the flight is not full, you may get the whole row and if not, the person assigned the middle seat will happily take the aisle.
  • You might try flying at lower volume times of the day/week. However, in the current travel climate there may be no such thing.
  • Take your Car Seat and your stroller right up to the plane and then gate check the stroller, so it's waiting for you as you disembark. If there is an available seat you can take your car seat on the plane with you. If not they will gate check that too. If you don't have a stroller/car seat gate-check bags, take large, heavy-duty bags and some masking or duct tape. Covering the car seat and the stroller will protect them while in the cargo area.
  • Take your baby sling or baby carrier too. This is great for walking through the airport, keeping your baby secure while flying, and calming a fussy baby on the plane. Get up and stretch your legs and take the baby with you. NOTE: Babies need to be removed from carriers and strollers while going through the security checkpoint, per TSA.
  • Consider using a Backpack diaper bag. It will keep your hands free.
  • In your carry on bag bring an extra shirt for yourself and enough diapers/clothes for the baby to make it through a blowout or two. Be prepared for a delay, and if you can, for even and unexpected overnight stay.
  • Create diaper changing bags: one diaper and several wipes in a Ziploc bag (do a bunch). When you need to change the baby just grab a baggy, make the change and use the Ziploc for the dirty diaper.
  • Also consider getting some disposable changing pads and throw them away after each use. This helps to protect the baby from the airport and plane environment.
  • Check the TSA website and take a copy of the rules with you. You may need it at security if you meet less informed security agents. Currently, you may take breastmilk through security (when traveling with or without the baby) in larger quantities than three ounces.
  • Breastmilk can be kept in a separate bag from other gels and liquids. You must declare that you have the milk and are encouraged to carry on only what is needed until you reach your destination. Any other milk that you want to take, can be packed in large Ziplocs, surrounded by ice cubes or blue ice and placed in the bags you plan to check.
  • Take your nursing covers too. At The Pump Station we recommend the Bebe au Lait nursing covers. Also try a nursing tank top, and wearing layers. The tank makes nursing so easy while keeping your midsection covered. The nursing tank is beloved by most of our clients.
  • Planes are flying germ containers, so take a few antibacterial wipes in a baggy. Use them to wipe down the arms of your seat and the tray table.
  • Don't forget your hand sanitizer, you can get travel sizes. We don't have to tell you, but use frequently.
  • Try to nurse your baby or offer a few sips of breast milk by bottle when you are taking off and landing. Getting the baby to swallow helps reduce pressure in the ears. If the baby is sleeping, don't wake him.
  • Put drops of breast milk in eyes and nose repeatedly before and during the trip. This may help reduce the risk of the baby getting sick. It works like an antibiotic/antiviral! Good Stuff.
  • Ask for help! Getting your luggage through security, into the overheads, etc. can be a hassle. People feel good about themselves when they help others, so let 'em help. 
Items We Love in Flight
diaper Change on plane with disposable pads
Disposle Changing Pads
pumping easier with breastmilk bags
Medela Pump & Save Breastmilk Bags

Nursing Covers


The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Professionals have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding and Baby Care Products.

by Corky Harvey MS, RN, IBCLC, Founder

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Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mama

Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mama

by Linda Mansolillo

Returning to the workplace while maintaining an adequate milk supply can be very challenging. One of our amazing mothers was very successful in her goal to provide her baby with ample breastmilk while working full time and traveling. Linda Mansolillo has generously taken time out from her hectic schedule to compile a long list of invaluable tips for pumping while traveling and working outside the home.

General Pumping Tips for the Working Mama

  • Keep baby reminders with you, videos, lovies, pictures to help you remember this amazing person you are doing this for
  • Keep a supply of scarves in your car/tied to your purse for coverage if you need to pump in unexpected places
  • Pack extra zip lock bags to separate dirty parts
  • Pack the night before as you are less like to forget something
  • Invest in a manual/hand pump in case your electric one breaks
  • If all else fails hand express in a bathroom after you've put some warm towels on your breasts to help release milk
  • Be an advocate for your pump time- that meeting you need to leave to pump is not more important. No one needs to know why, but just make sure you make the time
  • Try to squeeze in an extra pump at home, if you can, early in the morning after the baby has fed, or if your milk supply is high, pump one side and feed the baby on the other. This is a great tip to build up extra bottles quickly!
  • Have a shirt/bra stash for a random leak accident
  • Dress for a successful pump, meaning any top or dress you can get to your breasts easily. Be wary of silk if you don't catch the milk drips as it will leave a stain
  • Consider bottle bags with ice packs built in so you can toss and grab from freezer (not recommended for travel as TSA will require any ice pack not completely solid to be thrown away and you don't want to lose your whole cooler)
  • Place flanges and pump parts in the refrigerator between pumps so you don't have to wash them until the end of the day
  • Buy Medela Quick Clean Micro-steam sterilizing bags for extra convenience and good cleaning
  • When finished pumping have a towel either on your lap or ready to catch the drips as this can save clothing changes and or stains
  • Keep a full set of pump parts at work
  • Invest in a car charger and battery pack- many women pump on the drive in
  • Consider renting a bigger pump to keep in your office, or check to see if your office has them available
    We rent Hospital Grade Breast Pumps.

Travel Specific Tips for Working Flying Mama's

  • Buy a spare AC wall plug, a battery pack, batteries, and plane charger. You may need all options aircraft dependent. If you travel a lot make sure to test the batteries before you leave or have a spare set. Also note that some battery packs require 8 batteries (4 per side)
    We only carry a few pump parts on our website, but call either of our stores and we'll be happy to gather up what you need for pickup, or call the Hollywood store and we can have what you need shipped. Santa Monica: (310) 998-1981 Hollywood: (323) 469-5300.
  • Invest in lots of ice packs as you may be forced to throw them away if they are not frozen solid by the TSA, or as leaks may happen during transportation and they become dirty.
  • If pumping on the plane in the restroom let a flight attendant know, so they don't get concerned
  • Don't be afraid to pump in your seat- airplanes are extremely loud so you can't hear the pump. Bring a blanket, scarf, or in a pinch ask for an airplane blanket
  • Consider pumping one side at at time on the plane into a larger bottle so you can stick it right in the cooler and avoiding taking too much cooler space and/or having to pour the milk on the plane
  • Don't be afraid to try and pump in nice places if you're traveling- hotel ladies room lounges, airline lounges etc. One great spot is some lounges have showers you can use, which is a nice private room with water and plugs. A good backup is the family restrooms
  • Baristas and flight attendants will give you free ice if you need it while traveling
  • Buy and travel with milk storage bags, they take up less space in your cooler but bring at least two bottles for pumping on the plane, and so you have alternatives
  • Use your flange as funnel to pour the milk into the bags
  • Make sure you know milk transport guidelines- for example milk is good in a cooler for a TOTAL of 24 hours, so you can transport your milk, store it at your hotel in a refrigerator, and then transport it on a cooler back home as long as it is not in the freezer bag >24hrs
  • Call hotels ahead to make sure you have a refrigerator with a freezer in your room- they normally will charge you nothing if you say it is for breastmilk. Some minibar refrigerators are cool enough
  • If your hotel room doesn't have a freezer you will likely get push back from the hotel about freezing your ice because of food storage laws, so pack extra bags so you can make new ice packs if needed
  • Check to make sure your milk storage bags have little air and are sealed properly as the cabin pressure may cause them to open and leak
  • Plan to spend about 10 minutes longer then normal getting through security even with TSA PreCheck as they may want to do additional testing
Essential Breastfeeding Support and Baby Care Items
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Consultants have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding Products

See Other Breastfeeding and Baby Care Help Topics

This article has not been prepared by a physician, is not intended as medical advice, and is not a substitute for regular medical care. Consult with a physician if medical symptoms or problems occur.

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